Monday, 5 March 2012

Roasted, Spiced Butternut Squash

Working from home, as I do, can sometimes be a good thing and sometimes a very bad thing.

On a good day, I get up, my work gets done to a standard I'm proud of, I have time to do a bit of food shopping, I write a blog post, I prepare a hearty healthy lunch, I catch up with my email, I have a shower and I cook dinner. On a bad day, I get up, potter around, and then BAM! It's 5pm; my work looks like it has been written by Borat, lunch was a packet of crisps, I'm still in my pyjamas and slippers, I smell a bit questionable, and no dinner prepared.

Today was one of those days.

So, to avoid seeing my wife's sad little face when she comes home, to discover a distinct lack of enticing wafts of cooking aroma permeating the flat, I threw on a tracksuit, bombed down to the supermarkets on Edgware Road and tried to make amends.

After a frantic five minute trolley-dash, I had bought the ingredients for dinner and was on my way home. I opened the door to the flat and set about preparing the feast and, at the same time, had a three minute shower and a quick tidy-up of the flat while getting dressed.

Six o'clock hit and the key in the lock could clearly be heard. I slipped the last piece of cutlery onto the table and took a step back to announce: 'Welcome home babe! Dinner's ready!'

Mrs Ribeye seemed happy to be home and happier to be greeted by such a freshly-washed husband. Even better, was the smell of warm, exotic spices hanging in the air.

The smell was this recipe. But, not only that, this dish, prepared in mere seconds turned out to be a revelation. The flesh of the squash had turned a beautiful autumn gold colour, the texture was sublimely rich and smooth, and it tasted like vegetable fudge. Incredible.

Of course, I didn't just make butternut squash for dinner. It was an accompaniment to the other things I had purchased. However, I told my wife that I had freshly cooked all of the elements of our evening meal - and that's the story I'm sticking to. If I told you what else I made, I would just be exacerbating the lie. So I won't.

The squash cost me £1, so this dish comes in at a very honest (unlike me) 70 pence per serving. Delicious served with my Roast Pork Belly (true).

Serves 2


1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of demerara sugar
1 teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder
Pinch of black pepper
Large pinch of sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 200c. Cut the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds and stringy pulp. Cut the two halves of the squash in half lengthwise again, until you have four spears, and again until you have eight. In a bowl, mix the oil, sugar, five spice and pepper and add the squash, turning it until it is well coated. Place the squash spears on a baking tray, skin sides on the bottom, and roast until slightly charred on the edges and soft within (45 minutes approx). Sprinkle with the sea salt before serving.

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